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Heard the one about the agent, the conveyancer and the surveyor?

Heard the one about the agent, the conveyancer and the surveyor?

Emma Vigus, managing director of mio, in discussion with key suppliers in the residential property industry on operating conditions and the tools that are making everyone’s lives easier.

Estate Agency

Matt Nicol, Nicol & Co

“Since re-opening, supply has been low and demand high. It’s a great time to sell a property. We introduced Gavl Livestream during lockdown and continue to use it; encouraging buyers to do a virtual viewing before a physical inspection.”

“We conducted 119 livestream viewings between May 4 and June 7. They were viewed by nearly 1,400 potential buyers, which converted to 313 private viewings and 30 sales in the same period.”

“We have experienced challenges with conveyancers focusing too heavily on people who could move during lockdown, but we’ve pushed back and as a result, many of our clients are now able to exchange.”

“Mortgage valuations are still slow to be booked and lenders appear to be overwhelmed with the number of new applications, resulting in a backlog…but we can see that demand is out there in the marketplace.”

Donetta Holland, Sales Manager, Robinson Reade

“I became a mio advocate long before the lockdown, but lockdown has just re-emphasised how beneficial it is. Having previously operated a largely paper based sales progression process, I would not have been able to access the chain information and progress our sales as efficiently had I not been using mio, which would have made progression very difficult.”

“It’s so simple and easy to set up an account and get started, whether you are in the office or working from home… and by the way, the technical support is exemplary!”

Conveyancing

Laura Maggs, Quality Solicitors Amphlett Lissimore

“We’re really busy. We’ve cleared our lockdown backlog of cases and seen a big increase in new instructions. We made a number of operational improvements pre-Covid, including the introduction of ThirdFort ID and source of funds checks; implementing a new Case Management System and the deployment of double screens to reduce reliance on paper.”

“The changes have served us well over the last few months, particularly ThirdFort. My teams have been brilliant at adapting to working from home.”

“We haven’t had many fall-throughs, but we’ve had a few transactions put on hold, although most are now back on track. Instructions from first-time buyers can be challenging due to delays in mortgage offers being made and we’ve also seen a lot of instructions from people who are moving to larger or better-quality properties after sitting at home for several months.”

“We were forecasting a fall in transactions in Q4 but believe the stamp duty holiday announcement will impact those projections.”

“Going forward, I’d like to see estate agents, conveyancers and regulators really working together to drive change. People are trying hard to speed up transactions despite the obstacles placed upon us by the lockdown.”

“It would also be great if we had the ‘dream’ solution that enabled home movers to progress through the entire transaction on one platform, but integration remains a key issue.”

Olly Thornton Berry, Thirdfort

“Thirdfort reduces risk for solicitors and conveyancers by automating ID and source of funds checks through an ultra-secure app. Since lockdown, we have seen a strong increase in demand with firms looking for a way to onboard clients remotely without compromising service or security.”

“We have also had to implement remote ways of working ourselves, including changing the way we onboard new Thirdfort clients from in person to remotely while making sure we don’t sacrifice setup times and firms can be up and running in days.”

“Despite the turmoil of the last few months, we are grateful that the market has stayed buoyant and are hoping the government’s stamp duty initiative helps this continue. It has been inspiring to see an industry adapt so quickly and discover what’s possible when compelled by a rapidly changing backdrop.”

Frances Hill, Muve Conveyancers

“June 2020 has been our busiest month ever with 400 new instructions, but we have seen a significant reduction in referrals from mortgage brokers due to lenders withdrawing products.”

“As of end of June, we are still clearing the backlog from lockdown so we’re focusing on servicing clients who are ready to move and/or need to move quickly.”

“We are experiencing some delays due to other law firms and home movers being slow to respond but we do appreciate that clients have had bigger things to focus on.”

“We have had some buyers and sellers who’ve got cold feet due to economic uncertainty, so we’ve had a few transactions fall through. However, we’ve been working with Gazeal and its Reservation Agreement, which coupled with increased up-front information, means that once a sale is agreed, the buyer and sellers are to a certain extent locked in.”

“It’s brilliant and it has definitely helped to reduce aborted transactions.”

Bryan Mansell, Gazeal

“We aim to provide security and certainty for home movers and to enable all stakeholders to work together under a clear agreement to speed up the process. We start the conveyancing process as soon as the property is listed where we deploy a Reservation Agreement and keep all parties updated through an easy to use digital platform.”

“The take up rate amongst estate agents was initially slow but, since the turn of the year, it’s really picked up as the value of a more secure way to move to exchange is increasingly recognised.”

“Agents have taken time to appreciate that upfront information from sellers can help everyone by identifying issues early, and we are now working with 600 agents across the UK.”

“At the time of writing, we haven’t recorded any fall throughs and we are recording a 21-day time saving on average transaction times.”

“I worked in agency for over thirty years and recognise the value that agents can bring to the home moving process.”

“I believe the Gazeal service enhances the agent’s value as it gives them the information they need to act as trusted advisers by making recommendations that solve real problems.”

“If agents embrace new services and technology, they can help everyone move with less stress and anxiety.”

Surveying

Sofia Lennquist, London’s Surveyors and Valuers

“Instruction levels are really picking up. We have all of our residential surveyors back in the business and we’ve cleared our backlog.”

“The surveying industry has been slow to adopt new technology but with people forced to work from home, everyone in our business has moved to paperless and we’ve made our workflows and software more efficient. This means we can get reports out faster so we’re seeing improvements in turn-around times, which is a big success.”

“Everyone wants to know what impact Covid-19 has had on property prices, but we don’t have the answer to that, yet. So, right now our biggest challenges are economic uncertainty and the impact that has on valuations and, variations in lenders’ approaches.”

“We’re still working with comparable evidence from pre-lockdown, so lenders want to understand how we are arriving at our valuations. Everyone is hungry for information, but there’s a lack of communication between all the parties which means there’s more questions than answers.”

“It’s too early to see a pattern emerging in terms of demand for specific types of property but some deals agreed in London before lockdown have fallen through as buyers look to move further afield and we’ve seen an increase in instructions relating to properties outside London.”

Rachel Griffiths, SDL Surveying

“We worked hard throughout lockdown to deliver desktop mortgage valuations for our lender clients. As a result, 60% of the cases that were on hold were valued by a local surveyor, without a physical inspection, using multiple data sources.”

“Throughout lockdown, we maintained our relationships with our third-party surveying partners who weren’t carrying out desktops to ensure they understood the SDL Surveying strategy at all times. Feedback from many suggests our communication was invaluable.”

“Our planning stood us in good stead when lockdown was eased in England on May 11 and all of our surveyors, both staff and third-party firms, were ready to re-start physical inspections on May 13. We cleared the ‘on-hold’ pipeline in three weeks and new instructions have been at pre-lockdown levels for the last four weeks.”

“One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced is different countries in the UK following varying approaches to the easing of lockdown. To overcome this, we’ve worked hard to ensure we maintain regular communication with trusted contacts in every part of the UK. We recognise that flexing service levels regionally could become part of the ‘everyday’, if track and trace delivers.”

“Right now, our biggest challenge is predicting what the market is going to do. Our lender clients have money to lend and are receiving more applications than pre-lockdown and the estate agents I talk to, every day, are busy selling houses.”

“Market conditions may be outside of our control but if we all continue to play our part in delivering the best possible service for our clients, we can continue to positively influence certain factors.”

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